What Are The Biggest Industries In Wisconsin

Aerial view of Power Station in Wisconsin (Milwaukee).
Aerial view of Power Station in Wisconsin (Milwaukee).
  • Wisconsin's gross state product is $348 billion
  • Wisconsin's largest industries are the manufacturing, agriculture and healthcare
  • Top manufactured products of Wisconsin are food, beverages and tobacco products.

Wisconsin is a Mid-Western US state, bordered by Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Lakes Michigan and Superior. The state registers a population of about 5.83 million. The economy of the state is greatly dependent on its industries. The gross state product was $348 billion as of December 2019, accounting for 1.6% of the nation’s GDP. The per capita income is $31,998. The employment rate of the state is at 67%, whose coverage is mostly from the industries.

Here are some of the biggest industries in Wisconsin;


Wisconsin is home to more than 7,737 manufacturing firms among them, the Evinrude Outboard Motors, Kohler Company, Oshkosh Corporation, Milwaukee Electric Tool Company, Mercury Marine and Rockwell Automation. The manufacturing industry of Wisconsin contributes 18.79% to the total output of the state. Besides, the industry employs about 475,000 workers which are about 16% of the total workforce. In 2018, the total output from the state's manufacturing industry was $63.31 billion.

Top products manufactured by Wisconsin include food, beverage and tobacco products, machinery and fabricated metal products. These account for 44% of the state's manufacturing employment. Other manufactured products in Wisconsin are paper, chemicals, electrical equipment and appliances, computer and electronic products, printing and related support activities, aerospace and other transportation equipment, and nonmetallic mineral products.

In 2018, Wisconsin exported $21.24 billion of manufactured goods. 87% of Wisconsin exporters are small businesses.

Markets for Wisconsin’s manufactured goods include countries such as Mexico, China, Canada, and Germany. Reports show that 4% of the nation’s manufacturing jobs are in Wisconsin. The productivity gain of the state is approximately 30% across neighboring states. These gains are attributable to technological advances in the industry.


Wisconsin is the leading producer for cheese in the US, producing about 26% of the nation’s cheese. With more than one million cows and 8,000 licensed dairy farms, Wisconsin produces up to 3.37 pounds of cheese. Farm and home management workers top the list of industries employing the most number of people in the States. The local popularity index lies at 27.8. Wisconsin is labeled as “America’s Dairyland”. Thanks to its top production of dairy products, whose income is estimated at $5.4 billion. The state is ranked second in milk production after California.

Wisconsin is also a leading producer of potatoes. Other commodities that the state highly produces are corn, soybeans, cranberries, chicken eggs and hay. Reports show that there are a total of 68,700 farms dedicated to the growth of these and many other crops. Wisconsin has more than 122 million cattle, hogs, and broilers.  Of these, hogs comprise the majority. The Agricultural industry contributes more than $104.8 billion to the state economy. This is a combination of on-farm production, dairy farming, food processing, and exports. 11% of employment opportunities are from this sector and other fields involved in agriculture such as Science, Business, Engineering, and Business.


Healthcare in Wisconsin offers a total of 92,930 jobs. The estimate has been varying over the years, but still placing it among the most reliable industries in the state. Health plays a major role in the state's economy by being a dominant employer in 56% of all districts. It is regarded as one of the most prominent industries in the state. This is because of its expansive growth even as the population continues to age. While aiming at the improvement of healthcare, the state has had a similar impact in creating jobs in the healthcare sector.

87% of residents have health insurance. The demand for health covers has been on the rise, which has seen 183,680 people enrolling. Programs such as Medicaid are in place to provide health coverage for low-income families including children and non-elderly adults. The state has online portals which makes it easier to apply for these services like Medicaid. The government shares cost with Medicaid to provide medical covers. However, it is the largest source of federal funds flowing into the state's economy.

Biohealth discoveries have been born in Wisconsin’s academic institutions such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Such discoveries continue to promote health and improve quality of life not only in Wisconsin but throughout the world.


Tourism is one of the biggest industries in Wisconsin. The state is home to many popular tourist attractions destinations. Among them are the House on the Rock, Milwaukee art museum, Henry Vilas zoo, Wilmot Mountain and Cave of the Mounds. The great Milwaukee area is the largest museum market in the state. The total number of jobs from tourism in Milwaukee County is more than 32,000. Thanks to tourism, there has been a reduction of taxes for the residents of all the 72 counties.

Tourism supports an estimate of 200,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly. Tourism ties up with areas offering recreational activities such as canopy tours, rock climbing, park visits, and water park visits in Wisconsin Dells. Visitors’ expenditure amounts to $74 million. This is a huge boost to the economy because the state hosts up to 112 million tourists in a year. Tourism greatly contributes to the state economy by adding to the state, local and federal revenues. Among other inputs to the economy, all these have an impact of up to $21.5 billion annually.

Education And Training

The state of Wisconsin is an education hub. The state is home to public research universities, STEM programs, as well as superior high school and elementary education. Wisconsin has a deep investment in education. Throughout the nation, it has been ranked fourth in the best schools. Education and training institutions in Wisconsin offer quality education programs. Wisconsin has been ranked ninth and twenty sixths in school safety. In support of research and development, the schools induct workforce talent. The libraries are many and receive multiple donations from the county government. Schools and colleges boost the economy due to interaction with other industries such as the manufacturing industry. The sector contributes greatly to the economy via sales taxes and revenues such as those from the libraries.


More in Economics